Is Adaptive Design Better than Responsive Design?

Keval Padia
by Keval Padia 01 Oct, 2015

Web conversations in recent years have always focused on design and more importantly, responsive design and its implementation. Some of the talk now centers on adaptive Web design, but Google and Apple have helped in bringing adaptive Web design to the forefront. So is adaptive design worth its salt and better than responsive design?

- Like responsive design, adaptive design helps in generating a better user experience for a plethora of devices. 

- Responsive design includes slight variances in design from device to device but adaptive design depends on the device and device-specific features. 

- The website is then custom-made for user's device and hence this approach has been delivering less consistent cross-device experience than its responsive counterpart.

- An adaptive UI depends on what the users feel but cannot see.  

- The difference between responsive and adaptive design is spelt on how they look collectively and they might look similar or different based on the devices being used.

How is Adaptive Design Different than Responsive Design?

The entire idea behind the approach for adaptive and responsive design is similar and most of the differences though lie in its underlying HTML and CSS.

Responsive design is basically client-side where the page is sent to the device browser and the browser then sets the page in accordance to its own window dimensions. On the other hand, adaptive design is server-side because before the page is sent, the server detects the attributes of the gadget and a site version is rendered that is optimized for its dimensions.

For adaptive design, the server delivers an optimized page while for enabling responsive design, the device tries to render the site with the help of media queries.

Other Differences

The amount of information downloaded by the user is quicker to load when a site includes adaptive design since the approach uses multiple templates for a site while responsive design includes a very flexible framework restricted by a single template.  Most adaptive sites are said to be easier to build since they depend on existing sites.

What is Best for Users?

This question needs plenty of research on the design build to answer accurately.

Users of adaptive design include distinct benefits like better performance and increased flexibility. The sites render faster and more efficiently than other forms. One can even make changes in the code without impacting the site in totality. One can make adjustments without disrupting something that is working. With adaptive design, one can design functionality in huge detail. 

Design Thinking With The Adaptive Approach

Changing the website design strategy from responsive to adaptive requires multiple changes in the entire process since one has to make multiple versions of a site. Google's Material Design documentation has brought the adaptive process into the limelight

Google's Mandate for Adaptive Design - The Elements

The adaptive UI includes a flexible grid, which assures great consistency across layouts, and even how content reflows on multiple screens of different dimensions. An app can scale from small to large screens easily.

- Breakpoints: Layouts can work across the widths and one can choose one of them: 480, 600, 840, 960, 1,280, 1,440 and 1,600 pixels. This would allow you to quickly make designs for various devices with the help of efficient tools like UXPin.

- Grid: The 12-column framework can get you a clear view of the margin and gutter widths aligned to baseline grid and can be full-width or centered.

- Surface behavior: One should also pay attention to visibility, width and descriptions - Google has offered comprehensive details for each of them.

- Patterns: One should consider user action behaviors and their repeated patterns so that they can transform and expand the design based on screen size. 

- Templates: One should be using diverse templates of design for different devices and will also need a set of guidelines for using breakpoints and grids. One can have different aesthetic outlines for a site but one should first weigh in options before taking the plunge.

Your Choice

If you are looking for a solution that can take care of everything about the design of the site, then one would go for adaptive design as specified by Apple and Google. The design interface that you choose though would really depend on your immediate needs along with the intended users of the app or site. It is also important to get the design right for all platforms before proceeding to commit an implementation of the site on one of the platforms. This will help in uniformity as well as brand promotions too.

Author Bio

Keval Padia is a Founder & CEO of Nimblechapps. He is a Mobile Game Developer, with acute knowledge of Mobile Game Design and User Experience Design. His vision is to become the best iOS development company, which can transform people's idea into fully functional application at a very affordable price.